There are all kinds of posts out there on the importance of utilizing a mailing list. And there are even more posts out there with tips and strategies for growing your mailing list.
But what happens once people opt-in to your newsletter? What kind of content will you be sharing with them in order to build trust and encourage them to buy from you or work with you down the road?
Here are a few ways to spice up your mailing list and raise subscribers’ excitement when they see an email from you sitting in their inbox.
Before we dive into some creative content ideas for your mailing list, there are 3 important questions you should ask yourself at the outset before deciding upon a newsletter strategy.
How will your newsletter benefit your audience?
Many businesses approach newsletters as a way to highlight their work, products, or recent updates. But subscribers and consumers aren’t interested in hearing about you unless it benefits them; you have to provide them with something of value.
Make sure whichever idea or strategy you use for your mailing list is first and foremost beneficial for those you’re sending it to. Building trust with your audience increases user loyalty (as well as your chances that customers will purchase from you or book your services down the road).
How will your newsletter funnel people back to your site?
The purpose of a mailing list is to book services and/or drive sales. And where do those actions take place? Your website.
Your website is your business’s home base; it’s where all the magic happens.
So consider how you can use your mailing list to funnel subscribers back into your site. Set a goal for each email, create a call to action, and point subscribers to the place where they can buy from you, sign up for an e-course, or read a blog post.
Don’t create dead-ends, especially within your newsletter. Keep the end goal in mind and use your mailing list to funnel people back to your website.
How can you put your own spin on it?
Newsletters are worth pouring into because they directly reach your audience. Those on your list have usually asked to be on your list, so they want to receive updates and content from you. And not only that, they’re an inexpensive marketing tool (most platforms like MailChimp are free up until 2,000 subscribers).
Because of these benefits, business experts put a lot of emphasis on mailing lists and it seems like every business is trying to utilize them.
So what will make you stand out in a sea of emails? How can you put your own spin on a newsletter so people look forward to seeing a message from you pop up in their inbox?
This could be accomplished through a distinct tone of voice, a catchy email subject, and eye-catching visuals, but I have a few more creative ideas up my sleeve.
1 | Share a behind-the-scenes look
People love exclusivity. It’s innate; there’s something in all of us that gets excited to hear the inside scoop or figure out how something’s being accomplished.
And this is especially true within creative fields. People are fascinated by talent, especially if they don’t possess it.
So use this to your advantage. Share a behind-the-scenes look at your work, your process, or another facet of your business.
For Elle & Company, we share an inside look at how we’re trying to reach 100,000 unique monthly blog visitors by the end of the year. We give our subscribers a look at our stats as well as the strategies we’re using to reach our goal.
Is there something different about your business that intrigues others? Is there something you possess that others are seeking? Use this to your advantage and give them a transparent behind-the-scenes look through your newsletter.
2 | Create a narrative
People also love following along with a journey or a story.
That’s why it’s all too easy to binge on a Netflix series; any anticipation or suspense leaves us longing for resolution. We must find out what happens next.
Jake and I listened to a podcast called StartUp several months ago that told the story of a guy starting his own podcast business. He gave listeners a behind-the-scenes look at his approach to starting a successful business and he did it through telling a story. He would often leave us hanging at the end of an episode and the suspense increased our anticipation for the upcoming week.
Wouldn’t it be interesting to take that same approach with a newsletter?
You could take the StartUp route and share a behind-the-scenes look at a narrative within your business. You could tell a story of a client project from start to finish. You could even make up a narrative and find a way to highlight your business, products, or services within the story.
It might take a little creativity on your end to figure out how you could make this work for your business, but the idea has a lot of potential to draw in the interest of your audience, entertain them, and maintain their excitement to see an email from you in their inbox.
But remember: In order for any newsletter to drive people back to your site, you have to provide them with something valuable. So if you do share a narrative, be sure to consider how it would benefit and interest those who would buy from you or book your services down the road.
3 | Start a series
Like narratives, series have the potential to build anticipation and keep subscribers interested in reading your emails. This approach is a little more widespread and could work for any business, and there are a million ways you could run with it.
If you’re a photographer who’s offering consultations with others in your field, you could use your email list to share a series on Lightroom or your client process.
If you’re an interior designer who’s hoping to increase client bookings, you could share a series on interior design fundamentals to highlight your expertise and teach your subscribers about the importance of interior design.
You can also take a former blog series and revamp it for your mailing list.
Whichever direction you take, keep an end goal in mind and consider how it will drive traffic back to your site, build trust, and drive sales.
4 | Share blog recaps with excerpts
I wouldn’t recommend this option for everyone.
However, for those of you who are already putting a lot of time and effort into your blog to drive traffic, build trust, and drive sales, consider using your mailing list to point people back to your posts. Round up your most recent blog posts, share an excerpt from each one, and place a big “read more” button underneath.
We took this approach when we started the Elle & Company newsletter last winter. At the time, we were going all-in on our blog posts and striving to pump out high quality content every weekday, and we were seeing a great growth in our traffic and readership as a result.
We understood the importance of growing a mailing list, but the thought of pouring time and effort into a newsletter was a little overwhelming in that season.
So we reached a middle ground. Because people were already interested in our content, we used the newsletter to make our posts easier to keep up with; we rounded up our articles and business announcements and sent them out once each week.
But again, you won’t see as much success with this approach if you aren’t already putting energy into sharing quality content on your blog. Use wisdom and put your own spin on it to make this approach work best for you.
5 | Round up resources
While all the other mailing list ideas in this post revolve around content creation, this approach focuses on content curation.
Depending on your audience and business model, this could be a fantastic way for you to benefit your audience, network with others in your industry, and help you toward the end goal: driving people back to your website to purchase your products and/or book your services.
Not to mention how much time this option could save you, especially compared to writing new content.
If you’re a virtual assistant who’s trying to gain the trust of potential business owners who will book your services, you could roundup helpful posts, ebooks, webinars, or podcasts that would benefit them and send them out in your newsletter each week (and be sure to include some links to your products, blog posts, or services in there, too).
If you’re a designer looking to demonstrate your expertise and credibility, round up your favorite fonts, design articles, brand designs, packaging designs, designers, etc.
Consider what your audience is looking for and do the hard work for them by rounding up resources and adding some of your business’s content into the mix.
And for those of you who are trying to profit from affiliate programs, this option has the potential to be even more beneficial for you. Roundup products and businesses you’re already partnering with and find ways to include your affiliate links in the mix while continuing to benefit your audience.
6 | Provide a mini e-course
Care to go all out on your newsletter and really up your mailing list game? This option is for you.
While people love narratives and behind-the-scenes looks, people really love free stuff, especially when the free stuff is highly valuable to them.
Think about how willing you would be to give a business your email address if you knew a free e-course with helpful content would be sent your way. It’s a no-brainer.
So think through content that would be beneficial for your audience and create a mini e-course for your newsletter subscribers. Automate the emails through a platform like MailChimp so each lesson of your course is automatically sent to them within a certain amount of time after they opt-in.
If you already have a larger e-course or product you’re trying to sell, sending out a mini e-course in your newsletter could be a fantastic marketing tool. Get smart with the content and create a curriculum for your mini e-course that could lead right into that larger e-course or product. You can use the mini e-course to not only grow your list, but you could lead subscribers right into making a purchase.
This option definitely takes more time and effort up front, but the return on this approach could be huge for your business.
7 | Share an extra blog post
Still stumped on an idea for utilizing your mailing? Approach it like you would a blog post and share helpful content!
You might check out these previous Elle & Company posts for content ideas, too:
- 50 No-Fluff, Content-Rich Blog Post Ideas
- How to Create High Quality Content
- How to Come Up with 60 Original Blog Post Ideas in 30 Minutes
While it’s important to be intentional with how you use your mailing list. sometimes you have to experiment to find out which approach is the most effective and maintainable. Don’t put off sending a newsletter because you haven’t come up with the perfect approach; choose an idea, get creative, and take a stab at it!
And whatever you choose to do, be sure to consider:
- How will your newsletter benefit your audience?
- How will your newsletter funnel people back to your site?
- How can you put your own spin on it?
When you have these questions in mind, you won’t need to focus quite so much on your opt-ins and getting people to sign up for your mailing list. Because when you provide them with a newsletter that’s valuable and different, subscribing will be a no-brainer.
Which newsletter is your favorite to follow along with? What approach are they using that makes it successful?
Have you been keeping up with our newest blog, The Collaborative?
Here’s a look at what you may have missed on our newest blog last week:
- The Simple Guide to Opt-Ins (and some WordPress Tech Tips!)
- Life's a Pitch (infographic)
- How to Create a Stellar Brand That Gets You Noticed
- The Transformative Power of Content Marketing
Be sure to check out The Collaborative blog each weekday for new posts from business and blogging experts in the creative industry. (And follow along with it on Bloglovin' here if you haven't already!)